LUDOVICHALEVY Ludovic Halevy was born in Paris, January 1, 1834. His father was Leon Halevy, the celebrated author; his grandfather, Fromenthal, the eminent composer. Ludovic was destined for the civil service, and, after finishing his studies, entered successively the Department of State (1852); the Algerian Department (1858), and later on became editorial secretary of the Corps Legislatif (1860). When his patron, the Duc de Morny, died in 1865, Halevy resigned, giving up a lucrative position for the uncertain profession of a playwright:Atthisperiodhedevotedhimselfexclusivelytothetheatre. Hehadalreadywrittenplaysasearlyas1856,andhadalsotriedhishandat fiction, but did not meet with very great success. Toward 1860, however, he becameacquaintedwithHenriMeilhac,andwithhimformedakindofliterary union,lastingforalmosttwentyyears,whenHalevyratherabruptlyabandoned thetheatreandbecameawriteroffiction. We have seen such kinds of co-partnerships, for instance, in Beaumont and Fletcher;morerecentlyinthebeautifulFrenchtalesofErckmann-Chatrian,and
stilllaterintheEnglishnovelsofBesantandRice. Some say it was a fortunate event for Meilhac; others assert that Halevy reaped a great profit by the union. Be this as it may, a great number of playsdrama, comedy, farce, opera, operetta and ballet—were jointly produced, as is shown by the title-pages of two score or more of their pieces. When Ludovic HalevywasacandidateforL’Academie—heenteredthatgloriousbodyin1884 —the question was ventilated by Pailleron: “What was the author’s literary relation in his union with Meilhac?” It was answered by M. Sarcey, who criticised the character and quality of the work achieved. Public opinion has a longtimesincebroughtinquiteanotherverdictinthecase. Halevy’s cooperation endowed the plays of Meilhac with a fuller ethical richness—tempered them, so to speak, and made them real, for it can not be deniedthatMeilhacwasinclinedtoextravagance. Halevy’snovelsareremarkablefortheeleganceofliterarystyle,tendernessof spiritandkeennessofobservation.Heexcelsinironicalsketches.Hehasoften beencomparedtoEugeneSue,buthistouchislighterthanSue’s,andhishumor less unctuous. Most of his little sketches, originally written for La Vie Parisienne, were collected in his ‘Monsieur et Madame Cardinal’ (1873); and
‘LesPetitesCardinal’,(1880).Theyarenotintended‘virginibuspuerisque’,and theauthor’sattitudeisthatofahalf-pitying,half-contemptuousmoralist,yetthe virilityofhiscriticismhasbroughthimimmortality. Personalrecollectionsofthegreatwararetobefoundin‘L’Invasion’(1872); and‘NotesetSouvenirs’,1871-1872(1889).Mostextraordinary,however,was thesuccessof‘L’AbbeConstantin’(1882),crownedbytheAcademy,whichhas gonethroughnolessthanonehundredandfiftyeditionsupto1904,andranks asoneofthegreatestsuccessesofcontemporaneousliterature.Itis,indeed,his ‘chef-d’oeuvre’, very delicate, earnest, and at the same time ironical, a most entrancing family story. It was then that the doors of the French Academy opened wide before Halevy. ‘L’Abbe Constantin’ was adapted for the stage by Cremieux and Decourcelle (Le Gymnase, 1882). Further notable novels are: ‘Criquette, Deux Mariages, Un Grand Mariage, Un Mariage d’Amour’, all in 1883;‘Princesse,LesTroisCoupsdeFoudre,MonCamaradeMoussard’,allin 1884;andtheromances,‘Karikari(1892),andMariette(1893)’.Sincethattime, Ithink,Halevyhasnotpublishedanythingofimportance. E.LEGOUVE del’AcademieFrancaise.
CHAPTERI.THESALEOFLONGUEVAL Withastepstillvaliantandfirm,anoldpriestwalkedalongthedustyroadin the full rays of a brilliant sun. For more than thirty years the Abbe Constantin hadbeenCureofthelittlevillagewhichsleptthereintheplain,onthebanksof a slender stream called La Lizotte. The Abbe Constantin was walking by the wallwhichsurroundedtheparkofthecastleofLongueval;atlasthereachedthe entrance-gate, which rested high and massive on two ancient pillars of stone, embrowned and gnawed by time. The Cure stopped, and mournfully regarded twoimmensebluepostersfixedonthepillars. The posters announced that on Wednesday, May 18, 1881, at one o’clock P.M., would take place, before the Civil Tribunal of Souvigny, the sale of the domainofLongueval,dividedintofourlots: 1. Thecastle of Longueval,itsdependencies,finepiecesofwater,extensive offices, park of 150 hectares in extent, completely surrounded by a wall, and traversedbythelittleriverLizotte.Valuedat600,000francs. 2.ThefarmofBlanche-Couronne,300hectares,valuedat500,000francs. 3.ThefarmofLaRozeraie,250hectares,valuedat400,000francs. 4. The woods and forests of La Mionne, containing 450 hectares, valued at 550,000francs. And these four amounts, added together at the foot of the bill, gave the respectablesumof2,050,000francs. Then they were really going to dismember this magnificent domain, which, escapingallmutilation,hadformorethantwocenturiesalwaysbeentransmitted intact from father to son in the family of Longueval. The placards also announcedthatafterthetemporarydivisionintofourlots,itwouldbepossibleto unite them again, and offer for sale the entire domain; but it was a very large morsel,and,toallappearance,nopurchaserwouldpresenthimself. TheMarquisedeLonguevalhaddiedsixmonthsbefore;in1873shehadlost heronlyson,RobertdeLongueval;thethreeheirswerethegrandchildrenofthe Marquise:Pierre,Helene,andCamille.Ithadbeenfoundnecessarytoofferthe domain for sale, as Helene and Camille were minors. Pierre, a young man of three-and-twenty, had lived rather fast, was already half-ruined, and could not hopetoredeemLongueval.
It was mid-day. In an hour it would have a new master, this old castle of Longueval; and this master, who would he be? What woman would take the placeoftheoldMarquiseinthechimney-cornerofthegrandsalon,alladorned withancienttapestry?—theoldMarquise,thefriendoftheoldpriest.Itwasshe who had restored the church; it was she who had established and furnished a complete dispensary at the vicarage under the care of Pauline, the Cure’s servant;itwasshewho,twiceaweek,inhergreatbarouche,allcrowdedwith little children’s clothes and thick woolen petticoats, came to fetch the Abbe Constantintomakewithhimwhatshecalled‘lachasseauxpauvres’. Theoldpriestcontinuedhiswalk,musingoverallthis;thenhethought,too— thegreatestsaintshavetheirlittleweaknesses—hethought,too,ofthebeloved habitsofthirtyyearsthusrudelyinterrupted.EveryThursdayandeverySunday he had dined at the castle. How he had been petted, coaxed, indulged! Little Camille—shewaseightyearsold—wouldcomeandsitonhiskneeandsayto him: “Youknow,MonsieurleCure,itisinyourchurchthatImeantobemarried, andgrandmammawillsendsuchheapsofflowerstofill,quitefillthechurch— more than for the month of Mary. It will be like a large garden—all white, all white,allwhite!” ThemonthofMary!ItwasthenthemonthofMary.Formerly,atthisseason, the altar disappeared under the flowers brought from the conservatories of Longueval. None this year were on the altar, except a few bouquets of lily-ofthe-valleyandwhitelilacingildedchinavases.Formerly,everySundayathigh mass, and every evening during the month of Mary, Mademoiselle Hebert, the reader to Madame de Longueval, played the little harmonium given by the Marquise.Nowthepoorharmonium,reducedtosilence,nolongeraccompanied the voices of the choir or the children’s hymns. Mademoiselle Marbeau, the postmistress, would, with all her heart, have taken the place of Mademoiselle Hebert, but she dared not, though she was a little musical! She was afraid of beingremarkedasoftheclericalparty,anddenouncedbytheMayor,whowasa Freethinker. That might have been injurious to her interests, and prevented her promotion. He had nearly reached the end of the wall of the park—that park of which everycornerwasknowntotheoldpriest.Theroadnowfollowedthebanksof the Lizotte, and on the other side of the little stream stretched the fields belonging to the two farms; then, still farther off, rose the dark woods of La Mionne. Divided! The domain was going to be divided! The heart of the poor priest
was rent by this bitter thought. All that for thirty years had been inseparable, indivisible to him. It was a little his own, his very own, his estate, this great property.HefeltathomeonthelandsofLongueval.Ithadhappenedmorethan oncethathehadstoppedcomplacentlybeforeanimmensecornfield,pluckedan ear,removedthehusk,andsaidtohimself: “Come! the grain is fine, firm, and sound. This year we shall have a good harvest!” And with a joyous heart he would continue his way through his fields, his meadows,hispastures;inshort,byeverychordofhisheart,byeverytieofhis life,byallhishabits,hismemories,heclungtothisdomainwhoselasthourhad come. The Abbe perceived in the distance the farm of Blanche-Couronne; its redtiledroofsshoweddistinctlyagainsttheverdureoftheforest.There,again,the Cure was at home. Bernard, the farmer of the Marquise, was his friend; and whentheoldpriestwasdelayedinhisvisitstothepoorandsick,whenthesun wassinkingbelowthehorizon,andtheAbbebegantofeelalittlefatiguedinhis limbs,andasensationofexhaustioninhisstomach,hestoppedandsuppedwith Bernard, regaled himself with a savory stew and potatoes, and emptied his pitcherofcider;then,aftersupper,thefarmerharnessedhisoldblackmaretohis cart,andtookthevicarbacktoLongueval.Thewholedistancetheychattedand quarrelled. The Abbe reproached the farmer with not going to mass, and the latterreplied: “Thewifeandthegirlsgoforme.Youknowverywell,MonsieurleCure,that is how it is with us. The women have enough religion for the men. They will openthegatesofparadiseforus.” Andheaddedmaliciously,whilegivingatouchofthewhiptohisoldblack mare: “Ifthereisone!” TheCuresprangfromhisseat. “What!ifthereisone!Ofacertaintythereisone.” “Thenyouwillbethere,MonsieurleCure.Yousaythatisnotcertain,andI sayitis.Youwillbethere,youwillbethere,atthegate,onthewatchforyour parishioners,andstillbusywiththeirlittleaffairs;andyouwillsaytoSt.Peter— foritisSt.Peter,isn’tit,whokeepsthekeysofparadise?” “Yes,itisSt.Peter.” “Well,youwillsaytohim,toSt.Peter,ifhewantstoshutthedoorinmyface
underthepretensethatIdidnotgotomass—youwillsaytohim:‘Bah!lethim in all the same. It is Bernard, one of the farmers of Madame la Marquise, an honestman.Hewascommoncouncilman,andhevotedforthemaintenanceof the sisters when they were going to be expelled from the village school.’ That willtouchSt.Peter,whowillanswer:‘Well,well,youmaypass,Bernard,butit isonlytopleaseMonsieurleCure.’ForyouwillbeMonsieurleCureupthere, andCureofLongueval,too,forparadiseitselfwouldbedullforyouifyoumust giveupbeingCureofLongueval.” Cure of Longueval! Yes, all his life he had been nothing but Cure of Longueval,hadneverdreamedofanythingelse,hadneverwishedtobeanything else. Three or four times excellent livings, with one or two curates, had been offeredtohim,buthehadalwaysrefusedthem.Helovedhislittlechurch,his littlevillage,hislittlevicarage.Therehehaditalltohimself,sawtoeverything himself; calm, tranquil, he went and came, summer and winter, in sunshine or storm,inwindorrain.Hisframebecamehardenedbyfatigueandexposure,but hissoulremainedgentle,tender,andpure. Helivedinhisvicarage,whichwasonlyalargerlaborer’scottage,separated fromthechurchbythechurchyard.WhentheCuremountedtheladdertotrain hispearandpeachtrees,overthetopofthewallheperceivedthegravesover whichhehadsaidthelastprayer,andcastthefirstspadefulofearth.Then,while continuing his work, he said in his heart a little prayer for the repose of those among his dead whose fate disturbed him, and who might be still detained in purgatory.Hehadatranquilandchildlikefaith. But among these graves there was one which, oftener than all the others, receivedhisvisitsandhisprayers.ItwasthetombofhisoldfriendDr.Reynaud, who had died in his arms in 1871, and under what circumstances! The doctor had been like Bernard; he never went to mass or to confession; but he was so good,socharitable,socompassionatetothesuffering.Thiswasthecauseofthe Cure’sgreatanxiety,ofhisgreatsolicitude.HisfriendReynaud,wherewashe? Wherewashe?Thenhecalledtomindthenoblelifeofthecountrydoctor,all made up of courage and self-denial; he recalled his death, above all his death, andsaidtohimself: “Inparadise;hecanbenowherebutinparadise.ThegoodGodmayhavesent himtopurgatoryjustforform’ssake—buthemusthavedeliveredhimafterfive minutes.” All this passed through the mind of the old man, as he continued his walk towardSouvigny.Hewasgoingtothetown,tothesolicitoroftheMarquise,to inquire the result of the sale; to learn who were to be the new masters of the
castleofLongueval.TheAbbehadstillaboutamiletowalkbeforereachingthe firsthousesofSouvigny,andwaspassingtheparkofLavardenswhenheheard, abovehishead,voicescallingtohim: “MonsieurleCure,MonsieurleCure.” Atthisspotadjoiningthewall,alongalleyoflimetreesborderedtheterrace, and the Abbe, raising his head, perceived Madame de Lavardens, and her son Paul. “Whereareyougoing,MonsieurleCure?”askedtheCountess. “ToSouvigny,totheTribunal,tolearn—” “Stayhere—MonsieurdeLarnaciscomingafterthesaletotellmetheresult.” TheAbbeConstantinjoinedthemontheterrace. GertrudedeLannilis,CountessdeLavardens,hadbeenveryunfortunate.At eighteenshehadbeenguiltyofafolly,theonlyoneofherlife,butthatone— irreparable.Shehadmarriedforlove,inaburstofenthusiasmandexaltation,M. deLavardens,oneofthemostfascinatingandbrilliantmenofhistime.Hedid not love her, and only married her from necessity; he had devoured his patrimonial fortune to the very last farthing, and for two or three years had supported himself by various expedients. Mademoiselle de Lannilis knew all that,andhadnoillusionsonthesepoints,butshesaidtoherself: “Iwilllovehimsomuch,thathewillendbylovingme.” Henceallhermisfortunes.Herexistencemighthavebeentolerable,ifshehad not loved her husband so much; but she loved him too much. She had only succeededinwearyinghimbyherimportunitiesandtenderness.Hereturnedto hisformerlife,whichhadbeenmostirregular.Fifteenyearshadpassedthus,in alongmartyrdom,supportedbyMadamedeLavardenswithalltheappearance ofpassiveresignation.Nothingevercoulddistractherfrom,orcureherof,the lovewhichwasdestroyingher. M.deLavardensdiedin1869;heleftasonfourteenyearsofage,inwhom were already visible all the defects and all the good qualities of his father. Without being seriously affected, the fortune of Madame de Lavardens was slightly compromised, slightly diminished. Madame de Lavardens sold her mansioninParis,retiredtothecountry,whereshelivedwithstricteconomy,and devotedherselftotheeducationofherson. Buthereagaingriefanddisappointmentawaitedher.PauldeLavardenswas intelligent, amiable, and affectionate, but thoroughly rebellious against any constraint,andanyspeciesofwork.Hedrovetodespairthreeorfourtutorswho
vainly endeavored to force something serious into his head, went up to the militarycollegeofSaint-Cyr,failedattheexamination,andbegantodevourin Paris,withallthehasteandfollypossible,200,000or300,000francs. Thatdone,heenlistedinthefirstregimentoftheChasseursd’Afrique,hadin the very beginning of his military career the good fortune to make one of an expeditionarycolumnsentintotheSahara,distinguishedhimself,soonbecame quartermaster, and at the end of three years was about to be appointed sublieutenant,whenhewascaptivatedbyayoungpersonwhoplayedthe‘Fillede MadameAngot’,atthetheatreinAlgiers. Paulhadfinishedhistime,hequittedtheservice,andwenttoPariswithhis charmer....thenitwasadancer....thenitwasanactress....thenacircus-rider.He tried life in every form. He led the brilliant and miserable existence of the unoccupied. But it was only three or four months that he passed in Paris each year. His mothermadehimanallowanceOf30,000francs,andhaddeclaredtohimthat never, while she lived, should he have another penny before his marriage. He knewhismother,heknewhemustconsiderherwordsasserious.Thus,wishing tomakeagoodfigureinParis,andleadamerrylife,hespenthis30,000francs inthreemonths,andthendocilelyreturnedtoLavardens,wherehewas“outat grass.” He spent his time hunting, fishing, and riding with the officers of the artillery regiment quartered at Souvigny. The little provincial milliners and grisettes replaced, without rendering him obvious of, the little singers and actressesofParis.Bysearchingforthem,onemaystillfindgrisettesincountry towns,andPauldeLavardenssoughtassiduously. AssoonastheCurehadreachedMadamedeLavardens,shesaid:“Without waitingforMonsieurdeLarnac,Icantellyouthenamesofthepurchasersofthe domainofLongueval.Iamquiteeasyonthesubject,andhavenodoubtofthe success of our plan. In order to avoid any foolish disputes, we have agreed amongourselves,thatis,amongourneighbors,MonsieurdeLarnac,Monsieur Gallard,agreatParisianbanker,andmyself.MonsieurdeLarnacwillhaveLa Mionne,MonsieurGallardthecastleandBlanche-Couronne,andLaRozeraie.I knowyou,MonsieurleCure,youwillbeanxiousaboutyourpoor,butcomfort yourself.TheseGallardsarerichandwillgiveyouplentyofmoney.” At this moment a cloud of dust appeared on the road, from it emerged a carriage. “HerecomesMonsieurdeLarnac!”criedPaul,“Iknowhisponies!” Allthreehurriedlydescendedfromtheterraceandreturnedtothecastle.They
arrivedtherejustasM.deLarnac’scarriagedroveuptotheentrance. “Well?”askedMadamedeLavardens. “Well!”repliedM.deLarnac,“wehavenothing.” “What?Nothing?”criedMadamedeLavardens,verypaleandagitated. “Nothing,nothing;absolutelynothing—theoneortheotherofus.” AndM.deLarnacspringingfromhiscarriage,relatedwhathadtakenplaceat thesalebeforetheTribunalofSouvigny. “At first,” he said, “everything went upon wheels. The castle went to MonsieurGallardfor650,000francs.Nocompetitor—araiseoffiftyfrancshad been sufficient. On the other hand, there was a little battle for BlancheCouronne. The bids rose from 500,000 francs to 520,000 francs, and again Monsieur Gallard was victorious. Another and more animated battle for La Rozeraie;atlastitwasknockeddowntoyou,Madame,for455,000francs....I got the forest of La Mionne without opposition at a rise of 100 francs. All seemed over, those present had risen, our solicitors were surrounded with personsaskingthenamesofthepurchasers.” “MonsieurBrazier,thejudgeintrustedwiththesale,desiredsilence,andthe bailiff of the court offered the four lots together for 2,150,000 or 2,160,000 francs, I don’t remember which. A murmur passed through the assembly. ‘No one will bid’ was heard on all sides. But little Gibert, the solicitor, who was seated in the first row, and till then had given no sign of life, rose and said calmly,‘Ihaveapurchaserforthefourlotstogetherat2,200,000francs.’This waslikeathunderbolt.Atremendousclamorarose,followedbyadeadsilence. The hall was filled with farmers and laborers from the neighborhood. Two millionfrancs!Somuchmoneyforthelandthrewthemintoasortofrespectful stupor.However,MonsieurGallard,bendingtowardSandrier,thesolicitorwho had bid for him, whispered something in his ear. The struggle began between Gibert and Sandrier. The bids rose to 2,500,000 francs. Monsieur Gallard hesitatedforamoment—decided—continuedupto3,000,000.Thenhestopped andthewholewenttoGibert.Everyonerushedonhim,theysurrounded—they crushedhim:‘Thename,thenameofthepurchaser?’‘ItisanAmerican,’replied Gibert,‘Mrs.Scott.’” “Mrs.Scott!”criedPauldeLavardens. “Youknowher?”askedMadamedeLavardens. “DoIknowher?—doI—notatall.ButIwasataballatherhousesixweeks ago.”
“Ataballatherhouse!andyoudon’tknowher!Whatsortofwomanisshe, then?” “Charming,delightful,ideal,amiracle!” “AndisthereaMr.Scott?” “Certainly,atall,fairman.Hewasathisball.Theypointedhimouttome.He bowedatrandomrightandleft.Hewasnotmuchamused,Iwillanswerforit. Helookedatusasifhewerethinking,‘Whoareallthesepeople?Whatarethey doingatmyhouse?’WewenttoseeMrs.ScottandMissPercival,hersister.And certainlyitwaswellworththetrouble.” “These Scotts,” said Madame de Lavardens, addressing M. de Larnac, “do youknowwhotheyare?” “Yes, Madame, I know. Mr. Scott is an American, possessing a colossal fortune, who settled himself in Paris last year. As soon as their name was mentioned, I understood that the victory had never been doubtful. Gallard was beaten beforehand. The Scotts began by buying a house in Paris for 2,000,000 francs,itisneartheParcMonceau.” “Yes,RueMurillo,”saidPaul;“ItellyouIwenttoaballthere.Itwas—” “Let Monsieur de Larnac speak. You can tell us presently about the ball at Mrs.Scott’s.” “Well, now, imagine my Americans established in Paris,” continued M. de Larnac, “and the showers of gold begun. In the orthodox parvenu style they amuse themselves with throwing handfuls of gold out of window. Their great wealthisquiterecent,theysay;tenyearsagoMrs.Scottbeggedinthestreetsof NewYork.” “Begged!” “Theysayso.ThenshemarriedthisScott,thesonofaNewYorkbanker,and all at once a successful lawsuit put into their hands not millions, but tens of millions.SomewhereinAmericatheyhaveasilvermine,butagenuinemine,a realmine—aminewithsilverinit.Ah!weshallseewhatluxurywillreignat Longueval!Weshallalllooklikepaupersbesidethem!Itissaidthattheyhave 100,000francsadaytospend.” “Suchareourneighbors!”criedMadamedeLavardens.“Anadventuress!and thatistheleastofit—aheretic,Monsieurl’Abbe,aProtestant!” A heretic! a Protestant! Poor Cure; it was indeed that of which he had immediatelythoughtonhearingthewords,“AnAmerican,Mrs.Scott.”Thenew chatelaineofLonguevalwouldnotgotomass.Whatdiditmattertohimthatshe
hadbeenabeggar?Whatdiditmattertohimifshepossessedtensandtensof millions?ShewasnotaCatholic.Hewouldneveragainbaptizechildrenbornat Longueval,andthechapelinthecastle,wherehehadsooftensaidmass,would be transformed into a Protestant oratory, which would echo only the frigid utterancesofaCalvinisticorLutheranpastor. Everyonewasdistressed,disappointed,overwhelmed;butinthemidstofthe generaldepressionPaulstoodradiant. “Acharminghereticatallevents,”saidhe,“orrathertwocharmingheretics. YoushouldseethetwosistersonhorsebackintheBois,withtwolittlegrooms behindthemnothigherthanthat.” “Come,Paul,tellusallyouknow.Describetheballofwhichyouspeak.How didyouhappentogotoaballattheseAmericans?” “Bythegreatestchance.MyAuntValentinewasathomethatnight;Ilooked inaboutteno’clock.Well,AuntValentine’sWednesdaysarenotexactlyscenes ofwildenjoyment,Igiveyoumyword!Ihadbeenthereabouttwentyminutes whenIcaughtsightofRogerdePuymartinescapingfurtively.Icaughthimin thehallandsaid: “‘Wewillgohometogether.’ “‘Oh!Iamnotgoinghome.’ “‘Whereareyougoing?’ “‘Totheball.’ “‘Where?’ “‘AtMrs.Scott’s.Willyoucome?’ “‘ButIhavenotbeeninvited.’ “‘NeitherhaveI’ “‘What!notinvited?’ “‘No.Iamgoingwithoneofmyfriends.’ “‘Anddoesyourfriendknowthem?’ “‘Scarcely;butenoughtointroduceus.Comealong;youwillseeMrs.Scott.’ “‘Oh!IhaveseenheronhorsebackintheBois.’ “‘But she does not wear a low gown on horseback; you have not seen her shoulders,andtheyareshoulderswhichoughttobeseen.Thereisnothingbetter inParisatthismoment.’ “AndIwenttotheball,andIsawMrs.Scott’sredhair,andIsawMrs.Scott’s white shoulders, and I hope to see them again when there are balls at
Longueval.” “Paul!”saidMadamedeLavardens,pointingtotheAbbe. “Oh! Monsieur l’Abbe, I beg a thousand pardons. Have I said anything? It seemstome—” Thepooroldpriesthadheardnothing;histhoughtswereelsewhere.Already he saw, in the village streets, the Protestant pastor from the castle stopping beforeeachhouse,andslippingunderthedoorslittleevangelicalpamphlets. Continuinghisaccount,Paullaunchedintoanenthusiasticdescriptionofthe mansion,whichwasamarvel— “Ofbadtasteandostentation,”interruptedMadamedeLavardens. “Notatall,mother,notatall;nothingstartling,nothingloud.Itisadmirably furnished, everything done with elegance and originality. An incomparable conservatory, flooded with electric light; the buffet was placed in the conservatory under a vine laden with grapes, which one could gather by handfuls, and in the month of April! The accessories of the cotillon cost, it appears,morethan400,000francs.Ornaments,‘bon-bonnieres’,delicioustrifles, andwewerebeggedtoacceptthem.FormypartItooknothing,buttherewere many who made no scruple. That evening Puymartin told me Mrs. Scott’s history, but it was not at all like Monsieur de Larnac’s story. Roger said that, whenquitelittle,Mrs.Scotthadbeenstolenfromherfamilybysomeacrobats, and that her father had found her in a travelling circus, riding on barebacked horsesandjumpingthroughpaperhoops.” “A circus-rider!” cried Madame de Lavardens, “I should have preferred the beggar.” “And while Roger was telling me this Family Herald romance, I saw approaching from the end of a gallery a wonderful cloud of lace and satin; it surrounded this rider from a wandering circus, and I admired those shoulders, thosedazzlingshoulders,onwhichundulatedanecklaceofdiamondsasbigas thestopperofadecanter.TheysaythattheMinisterofFinancehadsoldsecretly toMrs.Scotthalfthecrowndiamonds,andthatwashow,themonthbefore,he hadbeenabletoshowasurplusof1,500,000francsinthebudget.Addtoallthis that the lady had a remarkably good air, and that the little acrobat seemed perfectlyathomeinthemidstofallthissplendor.” Paulwasgoingsofarthathismotherwasobligedtostophim.BeforeM.de Larnac,whowasexcessivelyannoyedanddisappointed,heshowedtooplainly his delight at the prospect of having this marvellous American for a near neighbor.
TheAbbeConstantinwaspreparingtoreturntoLongueval,butPaul,seeing himreadytostart,said: “No!no!MonsieurleCure,youmustnotthinkofwalkingbacktoLongueval intheheatoftheday.Allowmetodriveyouhome.Iamreallygrievedtosee yousocastdown,andwilltrymybesttoamuseyou.Oh!ifyouweretentimesa saintIwouldmakeyoulaughatmystories.” Andhalfanhourafter,thetwo—theCureandPaul—drovesidebysideinthe directionofthevillage.Paultalked,talked,talked.Hismotherwasnotthereto checkormoderatehistransports,andhisjoywasoverflowing. “Now,lookhere,Monsieurl’Abbe,youarewrongtotakethingsinthistragic manner.Stay,lookatmylittlemare,howwellshetrots!whatgoodactionshe has! You have not seen her before? What do you think I paid for her? Four hundredfrancs.Idiscoveredherafortnightago,betweentheshaftsofamarket gardener’scart.Sheisatreasure.Iassureyoushecandosixteenmilesanhour, andkeepone’shandsfullallthetime.Justseehowshepulls.Come,tot-tot-tot! Youarenotinahurry,Monsieurl’Abbe,Ihope.Letusreturnthroughthewood; thefreshairwilldoyougood.Oh!Monsieurl’Abbe,ifyouonlyknewwhata regardIhaveforyou,andrespect,too.Ididnottalktoomuchnonsensebefore youjustnow,didI?Ishouldbesosorry—” “No,mychild,Iheardnothing.” “Well,wewilltakethelongestwayround.” Afterhavingturnedtotheleftinthewood,Paulresumedhiscommunications. “I was saying, Monsieur l’Abbe,” he went on, “that you are wrong to take thingssoseriously.ShallItellyouwhatIthink?Thisisaveryfortunateaffair.” “Veryfortunate?” “Yes, very fortunate. I would rather see the Scotts at Longueval than the Gallards.DidyounothearMonsieurdeLarnacreproachtheseAmericanswith spendingtheirmoneyfoolishly.Itisneverfoolishtospendmoney.Thefollylies inkeepingit.YourpoorforIamperfectlysurethatitisyourpoorofwhomyou arethinking—yourpoorhavemadeagoodthingofitto-day.Thatismyopinion. Thereligion?Well,theywillnotgotomass,andthatwillbeagrieftoyou,that isonlynatural;buttheywillsendyoumoney,plentyofmoney,andyouwilltake it,andyouwillbequiterightindoingso.Youwillseethatyouwillnotsayno. Therewillbegoldrainingoverthewholeplace;amovement,abustle,carriages with four horses, postilions, powdered footmen, paper chases, hunting parties, balls,fireworks,andhereinthisveryspotIshallperhapsfindParisagainbefore long.Ishallseeoncemorethetworiders,andthetwolittlegroomsofwhomI
was speaking just now. If you only knew how well those two sisters look on horseback!OnemorningIwentrightroundtheBoisdeBoulognebehindthem;I fancyIcanseethemstill.Theyhadhighhats,andlittleblackveilsdrawnvery tightlyovertheirfaces,andlongriding-habitsmadeintheprincessform,witha single seam right down the back; and a woman must be awfully well made to wearariding-habitlikethat,becauseyousee,Monsieurl’Abbe,withahabitof thatcutnodeceptionispossible.” ForsomemomentstheCurehadnotbeenlisteningtoPaul’sdiscourse.They hadenteredalong,perfectlystraightavenue,andattheendofthisavenuethe Curesawahorsemangallopingalong. “Look,” said the Cure to Paul, “your eyes are better than mine. Is not that Jean?” “Yes,itisjean.Iknowhisgraymare.” Paullovedhorses,andbeforelookingattheriderlookedatthehorse.Itwas indeedJean,who,whenhesawinthedistancetheCureandPauldeLavardens, wavedintheairhiskepiadornedwithtwogoldenstripes.Jeanwaslieutenantin theregimentofartilleryquarteredatSouvigny. Some moments after he stopped by the little carriage, and, addressing the Cure,said: “Ihavejustbeentoyourhouse,‘monparrain’.Paulinetoldmethatyouhad gonetoSouvignyaboutthesale.Well,whohasboughtthecastle?” “AnAmerican,Mrs.Scott.” “AndBlanche-Couronne?” “Thesame,Mrs.Scott.” “AndLaRozeraie?” “Mrs.Scottagain.” “Andtheforest?Mrs.Scottagain?” “Youhavesaidit,”repliedPaul,“andIknowMrs.Scott,andIcanpromise you that there will be something going on at Longueval. I will introduce you. Only it is distressing to Monsieur l’Abbe because she is an American—a Protestant.” “Ah!thatistrue,”saidJean,sympathizingly.“However,wewilltalkaboutit to-morrow.Iamgoingtodinewithyou,godfather;IhavewarnedPaulineofmy visit; no time to stop to-day. I am on duty, and must be in quarters at three o’clock.”
“Stables?”askedPaul. “Yes.Good-by,Paul.To-morrow,godfather.” The lieutenant galloped away. Paul de Lavardens gave his little horse her head. “WhatacapitalfellowJeanis!”saidPaul. “Oh,yes,indeed!” “ThereisnooneonearthbetterthanJean.” “No,noone.” TheCureturnedroundtotakeanotherlookatJean,whowasalmostlostinthe depthsoftheforest. “Oh,yes,thereisyou,MonsieurleCure.” “No,notme!notme!” “Well,Monsieurl’Abbe,shallItellyouwhatIthink?Ithinkthereisnoone betterthanyoutwo—youandJean.Thatisthetruth,ifImusttellyou.Oh!what asplendidplaceforatrot!IshallletNinichego;IcallherNiniche.” WiththepointofhiswhipPaulcaressedtheflankofNiniche,whostartedoff atfullspeed,andPaul,delighted,cried: “Justlookatheraction,Monsieurl’Abbe!justlookatheraction!Soregular —justlikeclockwork.Leanoverandlook.” To please Paul de Lavardens the Abbe Constantin did lean over and look at Niniche’saction,buttheoldpriest’sthoughtswerefaraway.
CHAPTERII.THENEWCHATELAINE Thissub-lieutenantofartillerywascalledJeanReynaud.Hewasthesonofa countrydoctorwhosleptinthechurchyardofLongueval. In 1846, when the Abbe’ Constantin took possession of his little living, the grandfatherofJeanwasresidinginapleasantcottageontheroadtoSouvigny, betweenthepicturesqueoldcastlesofLonguevalandLavardens. Marcel, the son of that Dr. Reynaud, was finishing his medical studies in Paris. He possessed great industry, and an elevation of sentiment and mind extremely rare. He passed his examinations with great distinction, and had decidedtofixhisabodeinParisandtemptfortunethere,andeverythingseemed to promise him the most prosperous and brilliant career, when, in 1852, he received the news of his father’s death—he had been struck down by a fit of apoplexy.MarcelhurriedtoLongueval,overwhelmedwithgrief,forheadored hisfather.Hespentamonthwithhismother,andthenspokeofthenecessityof returningtoParis. “Thatistrue,”saidhismother;“youmustgo.” “What! I must go! We must go, you mean. Do you think that I would leave youherealone?Ishalltakeyouwithme.” “ToliveinParis;toleavetheplacewhereIwasborn,whereyourfatherlived, where he died? I could never do it, my child, never! Go alone; your life, your future,arethere.Iknowyou;Iknowthatyouwillneverforgetme,thatyouwill comeandseemeoften,veryoften.” “No,mother,”heanswered;“Ishallstayhere.” Andhestayed. Hishopes,hisambitions,allinonemomentvanished.Hesawonlyonething —duty—thedutyof notabandoning hisagedmother.Induty,simplyaccepted andsimplydischarged,hefoundhappiness.Afterall,itisonlythusthatonedoes findhappiness. Marcel bowed with courage and good grace to his new existence. He continuedhisfather’slife,enteringthegrooveattheveryspotwherehehadleft it.Hedevotedhimselfwithoutregrettotheobscurecareerofacountrydoctor. His father had left him a little land and a little money; he lived in the most simple manner possible, and one half of his life belonged to the poor, from
whomhewouldneverreceiveapenny. Thiswashisonlyluxury. Hefoundinhiswayayounggirl,charming,penniless,andaloneintheworld. He married her. This was in 1855, and the following year brought to Dr. Reynaud a great sorrow and a great joy—the death of his old mother and the birthofhissonJean. At an interval of six weeks, the Abby Constantin recited the prayers for the dead over the grave of the grandmother, and was present in the position of godfatheratthebaptismofthegrandson. In consequence of constantly meeting at the bedside of the suffering and dying,thepriestandthedoctorhadbeenstronglyattractedtoeachother.They instinctivelyfeltthattheybelongedtothesamefamily,thesamerace—therace ofthetender,thejust,andthebenevolent. Year followed year—calm, peaceful, fully occupied in labor and duty. Jean was no longer an infant. His father gave him his first lessons in reading and writing,thepriesthisfirstlessonsinLatin.Jeanwasintelligentandindustrious. He made so much progress that the two professors—particularly the Cure— found themselves at the end of a few years rather cast into the shade by their pupil. It was at this moment that the Countess, after the death of her husband, cametosettleatLavardens.ShebroughtwithheratutorforhersonPaul,avery nice,butverylazylittlefellow.Thetwochildrenwereofthesameage;theyhad knowneachotherfromtheirearliestyears. Madame de Lavardens hada greatregardforDr. Reynaud,andone dayshe madehimthefollowingproposal: “Send Jean to me every morning,” said she, “I will send him home in the evening. Paul’s tutor is a very accomplished man; he will make the children worktogether.Itwillberenderingmearealservice.JeanwillsetPaulagood example.” Things were thus arranged, and the little bourgeois set the little nobleman a most excellent example of industry and application, but this excellent example wasnotfollowed. Thewarbrokeout.OnNovember14th,atseveno’clockinthemorning,the mobiles of Souvigny assembled in the great square of the town; their chaplain wastheAbbeConstantin,theirsurgeon-major,Dr.Reynaud.Thesameideahad comeatthesamemomenttoboth;thepriestwassixty-two,thedoctorfifty. When they started, the battalion followed the road which led through
Longueval,andwhichpassedbeforethedoctor’shouse.MadameReynaudand Jean were waiting by the roadside. The child threw himself into his father’s arms. “Takeme,too,papa!takeme,too!” MadameReynaudwept.Thedoctorheldthembothinalongembrace,thenhe continuedhisway. Ahundredstepsfarthertheroadmadeasharpcurve.Thedoctorturned,cast onelonglookathiswifeandchild-thelast;hewasnevertoseethemagain. On January 8, 1871, the mobiles of Souvigny attacked the village of Villersexel, occupied by the Prussians, who had barricaded themselves. The firingbegan.Amobilewhomarchedinthefrontrankreceivedaballinthechest andfell.Therewasashortmomentoftroubleandhesitation. “Forward!forward!”shoutedtheofficers. The men passed over the body of their comrade, and under a hail of bullets enteredthetown. Dr.ReynaudandtheAbbeConstantinmarchedwiththetroops;theystopped bythewoundedman;thebloodwasrushinginfloodsfromhismouth. “There is nothing to be done,” said the doctor. “He is dying; he belongs to you.” Thepriestkneltdownbythedyingman,andthedoctorrosetogotowardthe village. He had not taken ten steps when he stopped, beat the air with both hands, and fell all at once to the ground. The priest ran to him; he was deadkilledonthespotbyabulletthroughthetemples.Thateveningthevillagewas ours,andthenextdaytheyplacedinthecemeteryofVillersexelthebodyofDr. Reynaud. TwomonthslatertheAbbeConstantintookbacktoLonguevalthecoffinof hisfriend,andbehindthecoffin,whenitwascarriedfromthechurch,walkedan orphan. Jean had also lost his mother. At the news of her husband’s death, Madame Reynaud had remained for twenty-four hours petrified, crushed, without a word or a tear; then fever had seized her, then delirium, and after a fortnight,death. Jeanwasaloneintheworld;hewasfourteenyearsold.Ofthatfamily,where for more than a century all had been good and honest, there remained only a child kneeling beside a grave; but he, too, promised to be what his father and grandfatherbeforehimhadbeen—good,andhonest,andtrue. There are families like that in France, and many of them, more than one